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Travel money guide: Switzerland

What every traveler needs to know about how to spend finding the right travel money product to use in Switzerland.

Whether you plan on skiing the Matterhorn or exploring the historical Basel Munster church, you’ll need to organize your travel money before you arrive in Switzerland. Switzerland accepts credit cards, debit cards and cash, with plenty of ATMs available throughout the country.

Credit cards are the best payment option thanks to their wide acceptance and safety measures. One that waives foreign transaction fees, like the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, can also spare your wallet from extra expenses. However, debit cards and cash can serve you equally well during your Switzerland adventure.

Our picks for traveling to Switzerland

Travel rewards with no annual fee

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Go to site
on Capital One's secure site

Rewards

Up to 1.25 x miles

Annual fee

$0

All-around travel value

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Go to site
on Capital One's secure site

Rewards

Up to 5 x miles

Annual fee

$95

Cash back with no foreign fees

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Go to site
on Capital One's secure site

Rewards

Up to 1.5 % cash back

Annual fee

$0

Travel card, debit card or credit card?

There are numerous ways to access your money when you’re on vacation, and it’s best to use a combination of products. Credit cards give you money when you need it and can cover you in a financial emergency. Debit cards are good for access to your cash, without all the traveling fees.

Whether you’re heading to Switzerland for some skiing or simply to enjoy the culture, be sure to get your spending budget in order before you leave so you can hit the slopes with no worries.

Visa and Mastercard branded cards are accepted in more places than American Express and Diners cards throughout Switzerland. Look for logos at ATM point of sale terminals to be sure.

Switzerland has a modern banking economy — it’s their primary industry — so you won’t need lots of cash on your travels. If your card has a chip you’ll be able to make contactless payments.

These are your options for spending money in Switzerland

Using a credit card

A travel credit card gives you access to a line of credit and you won’t pay for currency conversion when you transact in francs. Make sure the card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees as well: the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is a good example of such a card.

We don’t advise making a withdrawal on credit as cash advance charges apply and you’ll start paying an APR the day the transaction is made. Consider additional extras on your travel credit card such as insurance or an increased rewards for travel when you’re comparing credit cards to use overseas.

  • Tip: Some providers waive cash advance charges when you keep a positive balance and make ATM withdrawals. Find out which providers let you do this and which won’t.
Pros
  • No currency conversion fees
  • Features such as insurance or reward points earning
  • Some offer no foreign transaction fees
Cons
  • You’ll pay a lot for a cash advance
  • Rewards program may cost more than they are worth

Which credit card issuers are accepted in Switzerland?

Switzerland has “high merchant acceptance” for Visa, Mastercard and even Discover. Some merchants may accept American Express, but don’t rely on it.

For cash withdrawals, look for Six Multipay and Post Finance for all cards. Amex cardholders can make cash withdrawals from ATMs of Euronet, Credit Suisse and UBS.

Merchant acceptanceATM acceptance
Visa
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
Mastercard
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh
American Express
exclamation point iconMedium
check mark iconHigh
Discover
check mark iconHigh
check mark iconHigh

Potential credit card fees in Switzerland

Depending on your credit card and how you use it, you could incur:

  • Foreign transaction fees. Pay up to a 3% fee for every transaction. That’s $150 for every $5,000 spent abroad.
  • Currency conversion fees. Paying in US dollars at ATMs and vendors could set you up to pay a Dynamic Currency Conversion fee. Beware of using this option, though — the conversion fee is high and exchange rates are poor.

Compare travel credit cards

Narrow down top travel credit cards by welcome offers, rewards and annual fees to find the best for your budget and financial goals. Select Compare for up to four products to see their benefits side by side.

1 - 3 of 43
Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Earn a bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $200 in travel
Up to 1.25x miles
$0
Earn 20,000 bonus miles once you spend $500 on purchases within the first 3 months from account opening.
American Express® Gold Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 on eligible purchases in the first 6 months
Up to 4x points
$250

Rose Gold is here to stay. Card Members can choose between a Gold or Rose Gold Card.

Earn up to 4x points on select purchases and enjoy a bevy of travel perks with this upper-mid tier travel card. Terms apply, see rates & fees
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Up to 5x miles
$95
Earn 75,000 bonus miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months ​from account opening.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Using a debit card

A debit card lets you spend and withdraw in Switzerland like you would at home. Find a debit card that waives the international ATM withdrawal fee, such as one from Betterment Checking, and you can make free ATM withdrawals when you use an ATM offered by a Swiss bank. European and Swiss banks don’t charge ATM fees.

  • Tip: Make sure your debit card has a chip to avoid situations where you card won’t be accepted.
Pros
  • Secured with a chip and PIN technology
  • Block transactions with a phone call if you lose your card
  • It’s easy to find ATMs in Switzerland
  • Comes with a backup card
  • Money-back guarantee for fraud
Cons
  • No backup card if you lose it on your trip
  • Some charge currency conversion and ATM fees

Using a prepaid travel card

There are no prepaid travel cards that hold Swiss francs. Usually, the advantage of these cards is you can hold multiple foreign currencies at a time and save on currency conversion fees. A travel card makes sense if you’re spending your time in the Eurozone (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, etc.) and the UK, but if you’re spending the majority of your time in Switzerland, you’ll pay for currency conversion when you spend in francs.

The currency conversion fee can be double the charge applied to most credit cards and debit cards. Travel money products can charge the Visa or Mastercard rate plus 4.5% for currency conversion and charges for international ATM withdrawals. So, regardless of which product you choose, you’re going to pay for currency conversion, international ATM withdrawals — or both when you use a travel card in Switzerland.

Pros
  • Hold multiple foreign currencies at a time
  • Save on currency conversion fees
Cons
  • Not able to load Swiss francs
  • Pay a currency conversion fee to use USD
  • You’ll pay ATM fees

Paying with cash in Switzerland

It’s cheaper to get your cash exchanged in Switzerland than in the US, and even cheaper still with a no-fee ATM card. If you do have US dollars or euros you need to exchange in Switzerland, bureaux de change outlets can be found at airports and train stations. Or, change your money at a bank to get the most competitive rate for changing cash — and it shouldn’t charge a commission either.

  • Tip: Some large retailers will accept euros — though a majority will not. If you use euros, you will get a worse rate than paying with the local currency.
Pros
  • Greater payment flexibility
  • Convenience
Cons
  • More difficult to manage expenses
  • Higher risk of theft

Using traveler’s checks

Traveler’s checks are an outdated way to travel with money — it’s far easier and cheaper to use an ATM. If you do have traveler’s checks, you can cash your them at exchange offices in train stations or a bank. Exchange offices offer the same rates as banks; however they may charge a commission for the transaction.

  • Tip: Banks are open during regular business hours weekdays from 8:30 a.m.to 4:30 p.m.
Pros
  • Accepted at most banks and hotels
  • Security
Cons
  • Can be costly with initial purchase charges
  • Not all merchants accept traveler’s checks
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Swiss currency

10 Swiss Francs20 Swiss francs50 Swiss francs
100 Swiss francs200 Swiss francs

The main banks in Switzerland are:

  • Bank J. Safra Sarasin
  • Banque Cantonale de Genève
  • Credit SuisseEFG International
  • Julius Baer
  • Migros Bank
  • Swiss Raiffeisen
  • UBS
  • Vontobel
  • Zurich Cantonal Bank

Buying Swiss francs in the US

It’s cheaper to exchange your US dollars once you arrive in Switzerland, either at a bank or an ATM. If you want francs before you arrive, get money changed at any of the providers listed here. There are ATMs at every international airport (Zurich, Geneva, Basel, etc.), which should eliminate the need to change currency in the US.

Live Rate

= Fr 0.9263

Refreshing in: 60s | Fri, Feb 03, 10:59PM GMT

ATMS in Switzerland

You’ll have little issue finding an ATM in Switzerland. To save on extra costs, try to bring a debit card that doesn’t charge international ATM fees, like the one from Betterment Checking.

Keep your travel money safe in Switzerland

The overall travel risk for tourists in Switzerland is low, and ranks at #11 for the safest country in the world. Still, exercise a reasonable level of caution and common sense in high tourist areas and on public transit.

How many francs do I need to bring to Switzerland?

Yes, the rumors are true, Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in the world to visit, and — according to some estimates — the most expensive country in the world to live. Plan to spend anywhere from $75 to $400 a day, depending on what adventures you seek.

ZurichBudgetMidrangeExpensive
AccommodationHostel
$45–$100 per night
2 star hotel
$100–$250 per night
5 star hotel
$250–$800 per night
MealsSwiss sausage sandwich plus a pint of beer (street food)
$15
Noodle house (restaurant)
$30 per dish
Michelin star restaurant
$100 or more per person
ActivitiesRent a bike and ride around the city
Rental is free + $30 deposit
Entry to the Kunsthaus Gallery
$35 per person
50-minute massage for 2 at exclusive day spa
$350

*Prices are approximate and based on summer seasonality and are subject to change

Exchange rate history

The Swiss Franc is one of the most stable currencies in the world and definitely one of the most valuable. Since the Global Financial Crisis, the value of the US dollar has dropped against the Swiss franc. The past few years, 1 USD is worth about 0.90 CHF.

Case study: Bart snowboarding in Verbier, Switzerland

Bart goes to Switzerland every couple of years to snowboard. He splurges on a six-day heli-skiing package in Verbier, which is recognized as providing the best off-piste snowboarding in the world.

Bart says he gets to the mountain from Geneva and, when he’s done, takes a little side-trip to Berlin and then to Paris before flying home. He uses Swiss francs in Switzerland and euros in Germany and France. He spends about three weeks to a month in Europe each time he visits.

What’s your recommendation about travel money for Switzerland?

Bart says if you’re conscious of cutting out the fees for international transactions, you can’t find a better card than the Charles Schwab debit card, which is the account he’s had for years. It doesn’t charge international ATM fees, currency conversion fees or an account maintenance fee.

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